Thursday, November 30, 2006

Telling Aint Communicating

Some years ago, the maxim "telling aint training" appeared in the Training and Employee Development field.

I believe it is derived from this old saying about learning:

~ I hear, I forget; I see, I understand; I do, I remember.

The bottom line for training is that telling (e.g. lectures) is not enough. To ensure retention and application of learning, show examples and give learners the opportunity to do (i.e., practice) so that they will remember.

This idea is applicable to the area of communication too. How many times have we heard someone exclaim in exasperation, "How could they say they didn't know? I told them!"

Therefore, on this day the 30th of November 2006, I hereby coin the new phrase: Telling Aint Communicating. All readers of this blog are encouraged to spread the word!

Just as with retention of knowledge from training, if we want retention of information from communicating, we need to do more than tell. Working in parallel to the old saying, here are two ideas:

Show = Communicate visually. Use diagrams, graphics, pictures, symbols, etc. Use more media than just words or print.

Do = Communicate interactively. Talk with the intended audience. Use the phone rather than e-mail. If possible, speak with them in person.

Further, as communicators we need to be aware that there are always barriers to communication that may be blocking the transmission and/or reception of our message. Some of these barriers are inside the receiver, such as language, boredom, tiredness, distraction, lack of interest, dislike (of the sender), resistance, and other mental noise.

And remember that communication has not fully taken place unless we confirm in some way that our message has been received and understood.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/30/06

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"and now for something completely different" in getting an interview

Thanks to Michael Schaffner, who pointed me to the website of Lockard and White, a Houston, Texas based telecom company, with a unique approach to their careers page. An excerpt:

If you want to be considered for employment at L&W you first have to get an interview with us. To get an interview follow these steps:

- DO NOT send us your resume! (We won’t respond.)

- DO NOT email us!

- DO make personal contact (TALK and interact) with one of our leadership team members or any of our other team members.

In other words use your creativity to meet one of the L&W team and get to know something about them and L&W. Make sure the L&W team member gets to know you in the process.

After talking with and interacting with one of our team members, the L&W team member will decide if they think you have what it takes to be part of L&W. If they are willing to “sponsor” you for an interview, they will then set the wheels in motion to make it happen!

What a smart organization! L&W is saying "Show us what sort of networker you really are and maybe we will give you a shot."

I would daresay there are not a lot of others out there like L&W, though some organizations do hire this way. Just not so intentionally.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/29/06

Monday, November 27, 2006

Managing to Change

Thanks to Phil, I found Ann Michael's blog Manage to Change, where she intends to make sense out of change. Bravo!

In her latest entry, Ann writes her manifesto for change. I like it.

However, I would quibble with the fourth point, "There are no invitations." I believe that sometimes, when managing change, we may need to extend invitations ...

- to those resisting or opposing the change
- to those with questions who don't understand the change
- to people afraid to take the leap into change

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/27/06

Friday, November 24, 2006

Many Thanks!

It's Thanksgiving Day here in the States. I was about to write an ode to the meaning of this holiday, but in re-reading what I wrote last year, I decided simply to point you to that entry. It's damn good.

For today, what I'll do instead is say "thanks" to the many bloggers who have enriched my life this past year, including:
Thanks for noticing my blog. For visiting, leaving comments, and helping improve my game.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/24/06

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Singing the Corporate Song and Other Corporate Culture Foibles

HR brand blogger Regina Miller highlights this HR nightmare video of a guy singing an ode to his company's greatness, to the tune of a U2 song.

You gotta watch this video.

You'll laugh (at the corporate dorkiness on display); you'll be impressed (by how well this guy can sing); and you may be saddened (that such lame stuff goes on inside corporations in the name of promoting corporate culture).

As a former Corporate Culture Guy (yes, I was the Manager of Culture, believe it or not, at two telecom companies in the '90's), this kind of thing is the lowest of the low in corporate culture. Although there are times for celebration, corporate culture is not a party where everybody toots on kazoos.

A CEO I once worked for understood it very well. He would say that corporate culture was his people (i.e., the knowledge, experience, and attitudes) and how they operated (i.e., the behaviors, processes, and systems) day in and day out. He called it his "secret weapon" which no competitor could duplicate.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/22/06

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Permission to Quote?

Someone in the OD Masters program at AU/NTL contacted me today, asking my permission to use the leadership poem that I wrote back in April.

I asked what she was going to do with it.

Her answer: post it up on the wall and share copies with her cohort (i.e., classmates).

That made my day.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/21/06

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Naked Corporations and Peanut Butter Manifestos

A fascinating piece on leadership, corporate culture, and blogging at IR Web Report. Writer Dominic Jones spots a trend where "having your internal management frustrations brought out in public is now officially a good thing."

I am especially intrigued by the Peanut Butter Manifesto at Yahoo! that appears to be a new wrinkle in ways that blog posts can affect change within organizations.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/19/06

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Is OD Going Away?

Can an entire field go away?

Recently, at a meeting of senior HR professionals, we were discussing trends in HR. One trend that everyone agreed upon is that the field of organization development (OD) is changing.

For one thing, the field seems to be fracturing into specialities such as executive coaching and change management. The former is becoming dominated by external consultants. The latter is moving to IT.

Further, more and more employers are looking for HR generalists who can also do organization development, process improvement, and training.

The moderator's comment was: "OD has been absorbed by HR. Employers want broad-based generalists. Fewer people who can do more things."

The moderator then asked: "Do you think OD is going away?"

One senior HR leader commented: "Yes, within five years."

I shuddered at the thought.

Will OD as we know it go away? Should OD practitioners be re-tooling their skills set? Should OD students start thinking about a new major? A new career?

Or will OD metamorph into something else?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/18/06

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Talk to the Guy at the Coffee Urn

At a networking meeting this morning at Lee Hecht Harrison, consultant, author, and speaker Michael Goldberg, of Building Blocks Consulting, gave an invigorating talk on the power of networking.

Defining networking in down-to-earth terms, Goldberg offered a host of how-to's to kick up a networking effort. Some of the points that struck me:

- What is networking? Goldberg says that it's the proactive approach to meeting people in order to learn from them and help them.

- The ABC of networking: Always Be Connecting - I love that.

- Networking is farming, not hunting - Just like with farming, to reap a healthy crop, you need to work the soil, plant the seeds, water the ground, pull the weeds etc. It takes time and continuous care.

- "Know where you want to hang out" - If you don't know what you want, what you like doing, or where you want to do it, you may be in for a looong search. (Curiously, Nick Corcodilos emphasized this point the same way: Who do you want to hang out with?)

- Say "hi" to the guy at the coffee urn - You never know who he or she may be. Even if he turns out to be just another nervous job hunter, network with him: listen, learn, and see how you can help him.

- Out of sight, out of mind - Follow up with contacts on a regular basis.

- Have a list of media contacts - I wonder how many job hunters have that? I would bet close to zero.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/16/06

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lessons of the Pupa

At a networking event recently, I said, "Hi. I'm Terry Seamon."

The guest speaker said, "What do you do?"

I replied, "I'm a Training and OD guy, currently in transition."

The guest speaker smiled from ear to ear and said, "Who isn't?"

Who isn't in transition? Whoa. A moment of zen, as Jon Stewart might say.

I worked with another organization development guy years ago who had a sign on his desk that read "Change Guy."

That's what we are in the OD field, we are change guys. Our business is change. Planning it, facilitating it. Helping people deal with it and change for the better.

Transition is our thing, you might say.

Transition can have different meanings, for example purposely moving from one place to another, as in the phrase "in transit," where someone is travelling toward a destination, but is not there yet.

Transition can also mean changing from one state to another, like what a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly. There are actually four stages in its life cycle: embryo, larva (caterpillar), pupa, and imago (butterfly).

In the pupa phase, the insect loses its distinctive caterpillar structures and becomes unrecognizable for a time, slowly metamorphosing into its adult form.

As someone "in transition," I think there is a lesson to be learned from the pupa. I may have lost my prior shape and become unrecognizable for a while as I move toward my next incarnation.

As an organizational change agent, there are further lessons of the pupa, including that organizations desiring transformation will have to shed their former shape as a requisite step on the way to changing for the better.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/15/06

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How Avaya Manages Change

This morning, I attended an excellent presentation on how Avaya drives transformational business change, sponsored by the New Jersey Organization Development Learning Community, hosted by Kraft Foods in East Hanover NJ.

Given by Doug Reinstein, Director of Change Management at Avaya, some of my takeaways include:

- There are three kinds of business change: "burning platforms," business transformations, and "good ideas." The first type is about survival. The third type is about incremental improvement. Business transformation --e.g., process change, technology change, product change-- is where the action is . . . if you really want to reach a new level of organizational effectiveness.

- Most business transformations flop because of failure to handle people issues. Have a robust toolkit for change management that includes stakeholder management, communication, training, job design, performance management, measurement, and deployment.

- Do not pursue business transformation without a clear and compelling business case for the change.

- Keeping score is critical, but it's more than just having metrics. You have to publish the metrics continually. And provide appropriate consequences, both positive and negative.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/14/06

Monday, November 13, 2006


When my sons were little, friends would wisely say, "Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems."

They were right.

Now my sons are big. Kevin is 19 and a sophomore at Rutgers, and Dave is about to turn 18 and is a senior in high school, applying to colleges.

They aspire to do great things. Kevin wants to be a film maker, and Dave wants to be a singer and actor.

My wife Joan and I are so proud of them. Yet at they same time, we are worried that they will be disappointed by what they will encounter in "the real world."

So how do we provide a healthy reality check without being dream-smashers?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/13/06

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Management Innovation

Name your favorite oxymoron. Is it "jumbo shrimp"? Is it "military intelligence"?

How about "management innovation"?

At Slow Leadership, blogger Adrian Savage has an entry about that very thing that points to an excellent piece by strategy and innovation guru Gary Hamel.

At the Business Innovation Insider, Hamel calls for continuous innovation in management processes, such as

- how management creates strategy,
- how it sets priorities,
- how it allocates capital,
- how it organizes activity,
- how it motivates employees, etc.

But Hamel realizes that there are barriers in the way of such innovation, including managers themselves.

How do we change the thinking of managers so that they can get out of their own way...and get out of the box?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/09/06

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"You CAN affect change."

Last night, my wife Joan shared a neat idea she learned about at a rummage sale at a church in Hillsborough area.

Called "You CAN affect Change," it is a tag attached to a can of soda, sold at the rummage sale. The tag says the following:

"Please enjoy this soda. Rinse the can when you are finished and fill it with your pocket change. When the can is full, please drop it off at church. The money raised will support our mission trips during 2007. With your support, we will be changing lives for the better. Thank you for your help acheving our goals."

What a great idea. Simple. Easy to implement. Involves lots of people. Snowballs with potential.

That's the secret, I believe, to change management.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/08/06

Friday, November 03, 2006

Some Uncommon Advice

Last night, I attended a talk, sponsored by the Rutgers Alumni Association, by consultant and headhunter Nick Corcodilos, founder of Ask The Headhunter.

His contrarian advice on job hunting was invigorating. For example:

1. Don't slave over your resume.

Hiring managers get a ton of them for every ad they run, so there is precious little time for your resume to be reviewed.

Instead, research the company you are targetting and develop a business plan that addresses the problems they face, the solutions you would offer, and the benefits the company would derive from hiring you and implementing your ideas.

2. Don't over-prepare for interviews.

Instead of rehearsing answers to frequently asked interview questions, just relax and ask the hiring manager about his or her work, the goals they have set, the challenges the company is facing, and the problems they are trying to solve. Then talk about how you can help them be successful.

Nick calls this approach to interviewing behaving like the interview is your first day on the job.

3. Don't focus on job ads.

Job ads represent a tiny fraction of the total available opportunity in the job market at any point in time. Why limit yourself to a reactive gameplan?

Instead focus on the target companies or industries where you would really like to work, research them, and then go get introduced to people who are already working there. Ask them questions about what they are
doing: their goals, challenges, problems.

4. Don't waste time with headhunters.

It's the headhunter's job to find you, not the other way around.

This morning, I received some additional stimulating advice from my wife Joan who said, "Demonstrate wisdom, enthusiasm, and energy."


Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/03/06